Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway

Joe Spork’s grandfather Daniel taught him to be a clockmaker. His father Matthew taught him to be a criminal. Now as an adult Joe has embraced his grandfather’s world and rejected his father’s. But when an intricate mechanical beehive that Joe is hired to repair turns out to be a device that is about to take over the world, it is time to embrace both sides of his upbringing with the help of a 90 year old superspy, her ancient Pug, and a brother and sister law firm catering to the only the best criminals.

Nick Harkaway’s Gone Away World was one of my favorites from a few years ago. I was excited to see this new book at the library. His characters are fresh and wonderfully written. This is a book that is more about the journey than the actual plot. Here is my favorite paragraph. The nice old lady with the Pug has just killed two robbers/killers in her house with her stash of concealed weapons.

“The trouble with shooting people, Edie Banister now remembers, is that it’s so hard to do just one. Having shot her would-be assassin, and now being, as it were, on the lam, she has to return to her former quite abstemious attitude and not just shoot anyone who impedes her passage. She has already had to speak to herself quite firmly about nearly shooting two irritating pedestrians and a slow driver. She is positively proud not to have ventilated Mr. Hanley, the street-sweeper, who popped up behind her as she was leaving and wished her good morning, and she is really astonished at her own good behaviour in not shooting Mrs. Crabbe, who was merely walking by on the other side of the street, but whom she has never liked.”

The female characters in the book are quirky and unforgettable. Besides Edie there is Polly who has set up her bedroom to take the best advantage of the vibrations of the trains going by. Cecily has an encyclopedic knowledge of just about everything in addition to a collection of historical false teeth that she chooses to wear selected pieces from as the spirit moves her. Harriet is Joe’s mother and formerly a gangster’s wife who has gone to a convent to repent but when her son is threatened she reverts back to her former life with gusto.